The Rise of the Street Agent
Unless you have been living under a rock or just been on a very long extended vacation, the issue of street agents has become a hot button topic in College Football. The topic of street agents has garnered enough attention both locally and nationally that programs across the country are establishing protocols to deal with these issues and protect their student-athletes.
Possibly the most controversial case that has made national headlines and driven this issue into the limelight for discussion, dissection and review has been that of the University of Oregon and its' relationship with embattled scouting service director/owner Will Lyles.
The controversy stems from a relatively small payment of $25,000 that was made to Will Lyles recruiting video scouting company - Complete Scouting Services (CSS), by the University of Oregon that has ignited an NCAA investigation into alleged allegations that Lyles may have steered certain prospects to Oregon.
Is it cheating? At the heart of this issue are the allegations that these ‘agents' are interacting with high school prospects across the landscape of College Football and some are seeking to be paid scouting services. Lyles may have violated NCAA rules by providing recruiting expertise to Oregon but that is for the NCAA to investigate and determine.
Early this month, Will Lyles is quoted in a recent Yahoo! Sports report as saying: "I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits."
With the game of football come large financial windfalls. Successful programs around the country are looking for that edge that could be the difference between winning and losing, either directly on the field or in the game of recruiting. There are legitimate services throughout college football that are used for their evaluations of high school players that are both useful and do provide information that assists in the evaluation of players. Not all high school football players are created equal. There are recruiting services and evaluation companies whose purpose is to rank and analyze players across the country. This can be a timesaver and valuable tool for college programs and recruiters who are able to see players they would not otherwise be exposed.
Let's face it, college coaches cannot see every player in the country. Their time is both limited and valuable. There is only so much time in a day and there are already players that college recruiters are allocating their time actively recruiting. So Yes, there is a need and a purpose for legitimate services. But there is also a line and each University or College now has an added element that cannot be ignored. Ultimately there are NCAA guidelines and rules. The ability to protect your student athletes is an issue that has given rise to committees and meetings and while each school will determine their own unique way of handling the issue of what has been called ‘street agents', it has changed the game of football.
Coach Snyder Responds
At Big 12 Media Days, HCBS had this to say about Kansas State talking to its' student athletes.
"You know we have sessions with our youngsters where we bring some people in to visit with our youngsters. You know what we try to encourage our young people and their families – I think you have to communicate with the families as well – it's our preference and what we ask of our players and families is that when contacted by outside sources, that they share with them that, at the end of the season they would certainly be willing to visit with them.
If they persist in the calls that they make, that they would exclude them from the possibility of representative fashion of that individual. We put together a panel myself a member of the athletic department and someone from the appropriate fields, business fields, law fields, to meet with prospective agents that young people might be interested in so that families can come to campus and sit down and quote unquote interview prospective representatives of the program.
We check with and run checks with the NFL and players association and some other areas to determine the background of individuals that show an interest in our youngsters. But never the less that does not necessarily stop the onslaught and problems can still exist. I am no naïve enough to believe that you know that it always takes place exactly as I would like. Is it an issue? I think it is a major issue in college athletics. "